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The Easy Voters Guide to the State Props

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

Here’s a chance to vote like the pros do.

During the 2011-12 session, the Legislature passed 996 bills. Does anyone truly believe legislators actually read them all?

Nah. In many cases, what legislators do is see what the bill does, who wrote it and who’s supporting it and vote from that.
Now you can do the same thing Tuesday, avoiding the ballot’s mind-numbing prose. Instead, just check out the descriptions and follow the supporters you like. Of course, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Not paying close attention to the ballot can be hazardous to California’s health. But for speed voters, here’s the rundown:

Prop. 30 – Gov. Jerry’s Brown attempt to raise taxes to close the state’s budget gap.
Supporters include Brown, his dog, Democrats in the Legislature, the California Teachers Association, the state Democratic Party, public employee unions and the California League of Women Voters.
Opponents include Republicans in the Legislature, anti-tax groups, Charles Munger and his $22 million and some guys in Arizona with another $11 million.

Prop. 31 – Good government types propose a bunch of changes in the way the state handles its money.
Supporters include California Forward, the California Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and a bunch of local officials.
Opponents include the California League of Women Voters, teacher unions, the California Labor Federation and the Sierra Club.

Prop. 32 – An effort to take unions out of the elections game by making it harder for them to use union dues for political purposes.
Supporters include taxpayers groups, Charles Munger and those guys from Arizona again.
Opponents include every Democrat you can name, unions in and out of California who have raised more than $60 million for the campaign and the California League of Women Voters.

Prop. 33 – Lets insurance companies reward drivers who are continuously insured and ding those who haven’t been.
Supporters pretty much consist of George Joseph, head of the Mercury General insurance company, who’s put up $16 million.
Opponents include consumer groups, the California Democratic Party and the California Labor Federation.

Prop. 34 – Repeals the death penalty and replaces it with life without parole.
Supporters include the California Democratic Party, the ACLU, the California League of Women Voters and the California Labor Federation.
Opponents include former governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, Marc Klaas, GOP legislators and a long list of law enforcement groups.

Prop. 35 – Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking.
Supporters include just about everyone.
Opponents include few outside the sex industry.

Prop. 36 – Changes the three strikes law so that third strike must be a violent or serious felony. Supporters include George Soros and his $1 million contribution, the NAACP, the California Labor Federation, the California Democratic Party and the district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Opponents include the California Police Chiefs Association, the California District Attorneys Association and victims’ rights groups.

Prop. 37 – Requires labeling of most food made with genetically altered material.
Supporters include consumer and environmental groups, organic food producers, the California Democratic Party and the California Labor Federation.
Opponents include chemical companies like Dow, DuPont and Monsanto, along with just about every company in the food business.

Prop. 38 – Raises taxes across the board to provide more money to schools.
Supporters include Molly Munger and her $44 million, the California PTA and state schools chief Tom Torlakson.
Opponents include the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Labor Federation and the California Council of Churches.

Prop. 39 – Changes the tax treatment of multi-state businesses to bring an additional $1 billion a year to California, with half of it going to alternative energy programs.
Supporters include businessman Tom Steyer and his $24 million, the California Labor Federation and a variety of environmental groups.
Opponents include the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and a couple of taxpayer organizations.

Prop. 40 – The referendum would approve the state Senate redistricting plan being used this year.
Supporters include the Republican, Democratic and Green parties, along with the California Labor Federation and the California Chamber of Commerce.
Opponents don’t really exist.

John Wildermuth is a long-time writer on California politics.

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